From Fred Itua, Abuja
President of the Senate Senate Ahmad Lawan has cried out over the continuous harassment of his private telephone number and that of the Speaker of the House of Representatives, Femi Gbajabiamila, following plans by the National Assembly to yank off electronic transmission of results in the ongoing Electoral Amendment Bill.
Lawan spoke on Wednesday when the Committee Chairman on INEC, Kabiru Gaya, laid the report. The report is expected to be considered and passed on Thursday before the Senate will embark on its annual vacation.
Lawan said claims by some Nigerians that and politicians that the National Assembly plans to yank off electronic transmission of results by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) during elections, is untrue.
He urged Nigerians to lobby their lawmakers to do their bidding, instead of accusing the leadership of the National Assembly of manipulating the outcome of the exercise.
On Tuesday, the Senate passed the Electoral Offences Commission Establishment Bill into law, almost two years after it was sponsored on the floor of the Upper Legislative Chamber.
If signed into law, the Commission will be empowered to prosecute offenders involved in the destruction of ballot boxes or papers during elections. The prescribed jail term is twenty years imprisonment.
According to the Bill, ‘no candidate or agent of his or any other person shall grab, loot, damage or destroy in any manner, ballot boxes or ballot papers or any other electoral document or material, before, during and after an election, or take or attempt to take or cause to be taken ballot boxes or ballot papers or any other electoral document or material before, during and after an election without the permission of election official in charge of the election at a polling station.’
There is a fine of at least N40 million for such an offence. The Bill is proposing a penalty for hate speech. It recommends that anyone who uses or directs the use of threatening words, behaviour or action, or display or directs the display of any written material which is threatening or incites violence is guilty of an offence that is liable. On conviction, he or she will be imprisoned for a term of at least ten years or a fine of at least N40 million or both.